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Mon, Nov 05, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese dividedbetween optionson nation's status

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Less than 50 percent of respondents in a recent poll hope to see the nation maintain its present political status, while a growing number think Taiwan should either formally declare independence or unite with China.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 by the Eastern Survey and Research Center and Business Weekly.

The purpose was to find out what Taiwanese think about China and the US after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The survey polled 1,070 people from randomly chosen interviewees older than 20.

Of this number, 13.9 percent said that unification between Beijing and Taipei should occur right away.

Meanwhile, 24.1 percent said that Taiwan should formally declare independence while 48.8 percent said that Taipei and Beijing should maintain their current relationship.

"It's the first time that less than half of Taiwan's people hope to see Taiwan maintaining its present status -- when we compare this questionnaire to those we've had in the past," said Loh I-cheng (陸以正), a retired diplomat.

"The survey delivered an important message -- that more and more Taiwanese people are losing their faith in Taiwan's future."

The poll also found that 42.5 percent said the possibility of China attacking Taiwan would increase if Taiwan loses US support, but 43.7 percent had the opposite opinion.

A total of 47.3 percent said they believe the US would remain neutral if Beijing and Taipei resume political negotiations.

In this regard, 21.8 percent said that Washington would lean toward Beijing; 15.16 percent said that the US would stand up for Taiwan and the rest of the interviewees had no opinion on the subject.

"The US is still the major player regarding security in the Taiwan Strait. There is no question about it," said Andy Chang (張五岳), director of the Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University.

Regarding future economic relations between China and Taiwan, 57.3 percent said they believed that Taiwan would have to rely on China for economic development.

Asked what they would do if given the choice, 84.8 percent of the interviewees said that they would continue to reside in Taiwan, 5.1 percent said they would move to China, 6.9 percent wanted to immigrate to the US while 3.2 percent said they would like to move to other locations.

If China invades Taiwan now, 56.4 percent said the US would help Taiwan strike back while another 24.8 percent said it would not.

"Currently, Taiwan still relies on the US in its handling of many issues, including our relationship with China," Loh said.

"The government should at this moment work on building up public confidence in Taiwan's future."

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